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Dealer Sells Car Too Cheaply, Has Buyer Arrested

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By Andrew Lu on October 08, 2012 6:48 AM

A car dealership in Virginia sold a Chevrolet Traverse for way below the asking price to customer Danny Sawyer. Realizing its mistake, the dealership then tried to get Sawyer to pay the difference. When that didn't work, they had him arrested for theft.

Getting a great deal from a car dealership is not a crime, and the criminal charges for theft were dropped, reports ABC.

Now, the car dealership is facing a multi-million dollar lawsuit brought by Sawyer. The customer claims that having him arrested was malicious prosecution and he claims emotional distress and other injuries relating to the arrest, reports ABC.

It's not easy running a business, and one can easily get confused as to pricing. This is especially true when you are dealing with items that are nearly identical except for color.

In the car dealership's case, Sawyer reportedly bought a black Chevy Traverse for about $34,000. The next day, Sawyer brought it back and exchanged the car for a blue one. Sawyer was charged the same price for the blue car, but later on the car dealership realized that the blue Traverse should have cost $5,000 more.

A $5,000 loss may be too hard to ignore and the car dealership may have felt that it was forced to take some action. Sawyer allegedly did not respond to phone calls and letters, and refused to pay the additional amount saying that the deal was final. So what should the car dealership have done?

Unfortunately, given that a purchase contract was reportedly signed off by a sales manager, it's not clear what steps the car dealership could have done. They could have tried to sue Sawyer for the difference. However, with a valid contract, it's hard to imagine a court sympathizing with the seller.

The dealership could have also chalked the $5,000 loss as an expensive learning lesson. You can probably bet that the employees at the dealership would not overlook such details again.

But instead of taking one of these (more rational) steps, the dealership tried to have Sawyer arrested. As a result, they may have turned a $5,000 mistake into a $2.2 million mistake.

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